William Mazzarella
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  • Chicago, IL
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At 8:00pm on May 31, 2009, Timm Lau said…
Indeed. Identity as aspiration is definitely true and powerful for Tibetans as well as other people for whom a national identity of their own choice is out of reach. In some ways, on the other hand, nationalities and other group identities are not so different from brands... highly political sorts of brands, maybe. (There is of course the geographical dimension of group identities which is still not so much a choice but simply a given fact for most people.)

Personally, I like the idea of the concept of aspiration being used in anthropology more generally, as it brings into relief the psychological and affective dimensions of so many other aspects of life, beyond consumerism. It raises a very ethical set of questions, in the wider sense of the term, which I think is an exciting direction.
At 5:12pm on May 31, 2009, Timm Lau said…
Hi, I'm another one of your readers. Just to say, I enjoyed reading Shoveling Smoke. It also helped me to conceptualise the importance of Hindi films for my Tibetan informants in India, in terms of aspirations of romance and marriage, in my dissertation.

I think the concept of aspiration will become much bigger in anthropology - and desevedly so. Most recently, in my job search, I've seen that the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Goettingen, Germany (Prof. Peter van der Veer) have called one of their foci Comparative Study of Urban Aspirations in Mega-Cities - love that title - and say they prefer 'aspiration' over 'identity' as the latter is too limiting.

So, here's for aspirations - cheers!


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